Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about every tiny move I make. It seems as if the effort to find focus and direction in life has left me a little keyed up. I have been second-guessing my instincts. I have been letting worry get the best of me. I have found myself afraid to ask for the things I want most.
Fear is not an emotion I have a lot of trouble with, usually. Okay, yeah, sure, I have that thing about the dark. But other than that, I usually make a decision, for better or for worse, and I don’t let fear stop me from going after it. Sometimes I have gone after the wrong things. Sometimes my lack of restraint has pushed the thing I wanted further away. But wisdom and restraint don’t seem to be the issues I’m grappling with today.
Today I have been feeling afraid.
When I was a little younger and someone asked me if I thought they should, or should not, try this or that, I would ask, “If you do this, is anyone going to starve to death?” That may be a simplistic litmus test, but you get the point. We often censor ourselves, or keep from taking risks because of how we think other people are going to react, or how we think our actions will affect those around us. But really, most things aren’t life or death. 99.9% of the time, everything works out just fine in the end. You’ll live. I’ll live. They’ll live.
This train of thought reminded me of an essay I read, many moons ago, that inspired me to take up the “no one’s going to starve to death” attitude…
If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.
I have no doubt that I will find the balance between planning and discipline and spontaneity and risk-taking. And when I find it, I promise to share.
For more wisdom from the elderly, Check out this blog.